The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


June 18, 2012

Lee Duran: Audiobooks on same popular path as e-books

JOPLIN, Mo. — E-books are booming but that’s not the only change going on in the book business today. Audiobooks are also on a roll.

Good thing, because June is audio book month.

“That’s the best reason to celebrate the art of reading with your ears,” said Shelf Awareness. Total net sales are up by $2 million and the number of audiobooks published doubled in the past three years, according to Audio Publishers Association.

Audiobooks don’t particularly grab me unless I’m on a road trip. Then, they’re worth their weight in gold. Because this is the season for vacations, a few audiobooks might make the time pass more pleasantly for travelers over the long haul.

But the question in some parts is, do audiobooks really count as reading?

They are to me and also to the founder of an audio publishing company quoted way back in 1953 in a magazine interview.

“Like to listen to a little bit of ‘The Iliad’? You know it was meant to be spoken in the first place,” he said.

In other words, it’s all about the story. And the story is just, if not more, prominent when delivered by ear instead of eye. When it comes to choosing an audiobook, here are a few suggestions from Publishers Weekly:

  • “Bossypants,” written and narrated by Tina Fey, and named audiobook of the year. You know it’s going to be funny even before the first words.
  • “A Wrinkle In Time,” written by Madeleine L’Engle and narrated by Hope Davis. This is an oldie but goodie for the whole family. My kids loved this book and probably yours, or you, did too.
  • “Miles: The Autobiography” by Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe, narrated by Dion Graham. Davis’ autobiography “provides an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at one of the best and most influential jazzmen of all time.” The man was eccentric, to say the least, with a tendency to turn his back on his audience while he played --and I saw him do it. Maybe the book would tell me why.
  • “The Life and Adventures Of Nicholas Nickleby,” written by Charles Dickens, narrated by Simon Vance. This would be perfect for a long road trip because it takes 30 hours of listening.
  • “The Neil Simon Collection” written by Neil Simon and narrated by a full cast from L.A. Theatre Works The collection includes productions of 10 Simon plays including “The Odd Couple” and “Barefoot in the Park.”
  • “Tinker Tailor Solider Spy” written by John le Carre and narrated by Michael Jayston, packaged to tie in with the recent feature film version of le Carre’s famed thriller.
  • “I Hate Everyone, Starting With Me,” by Joan Rivers. Sure sounds like something Joan Rivers would write.

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